Celebrate Spring with these crispy and buttery Cherry Blossom Cookies with salt pickled cherry blossoms.
Spring in Japan is so beautiful and magical. All the hills and parks are are covered with pink and white cherry blossom trees, and many of them adorn city streets as well.
To celebrate the beauty of cherry blossoms, I shared my Cherry Blossom Milk Pudding recipe last week, and this week I want to share Cherry Blossom Cookies with you.
Watch How To Make Cherry Blossom Cookies 桜クッキーの作り方
Cherry Blossom Cookies with Salt Pickled Sakura
Many of you probably didn’t know that cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) are actually edible. In Japan, we preserve them with salt so they can be used in various dishes. However, it’s not as simple as just sprinkling salt over the blossoms. The whole preserving process takes place over several weeks.
Tender young buds are hand picked, washed, and dried. They are then soaked in ume plum vinegar for several days before being dried completely. Finally, they are packed in jars or packages with salt.
I think it will be fun to make them from scratch one day. For those of us who are not lucky enough to have cherry blossoms around us, we can purchase them from this online store that ships internationally!
To celebrate the spring season and cherry blossom, I’m partnering with Nihon Ichiban to give away Cherry Blossom Set to one (1) JOC reader. Everyone can enter to win, so make sure to read this post till the end!
Buttery, Slightly Salty, Cherry Blossom Cookies
These cherry blossom cookies are butter cookies, or you may know them as shortbread cookies or sable cookies. They are unleavened cookies, which means that leavening agents s
They consist of just butter, sugar, and flour and often flavored with vanilla. We use salt pickled cherry blossoms in this recipe, so it adds just enough saltiness essence to the rich, buttery cookies. You can smell and taste the cherry blossoms, which is the highlight of these cookies.
The texture of the cookies is “crisp” rather than chewy or soft cookies. It is commonly necessary to chill the dough for easy handling. The chilled dough will give clean, sharp edges for the cookies and holds its shape better in the oven.
Usually for this type of cookies, you roll the dough into a cylindrical shape, chill, and then slice into rounds (or roll out the dough, chill, and cut out).
Powder Sugar vs. Granulated Sugar
I’ve made butter cookies with both sugar and they both work, so you can experiment and decide. I used powder sugar for this recipe because I read some article that granulated sugar in butter cookies would not dissolve completely while being baked. Given that butter cookies don’t contain liquid, the cookies would wind up with a rough texture.
Cake Flour vs. All Purpose Flour
Again, you can make butter cookies with either flour. Butter cookies are meant to be somewhat crumbly because they have a high butter (fat) content. If you use all-purpose flour, they will be a little more sturdy than the ones made with cake flour (a mix of both would be best). Cake flour gives light texture, and I think it fits better with this cherry blossom recipe. So I opted cake flour for this recipe. In Japanese, we say this textue saku saku (サクサク).
White sparkling sugar can be replaced with granulated sugar. Sparkling sugar has larger grain so that it won’t melt and disappear while being baked. It adds a particular look as well as nice crunch when you bite into it.
CHERRY BLOSSOM RECIPE
Gather all the ingredients.
Cut the unsalted butter into smaller pieces (so that they will soften faster). It’s important to soften the butter before we start.
Separate salt pickled cherry blossoms to 2 groups: good flowers for decoration on the cookies, and 1 Tbsp. of damaged flowers for blending in the cookie dough.
To remove saltiness, soak each group of flowers in water (separately) for at least 30 minutes.
Squeeze water out from 1 Tbsp. of damaged flowers and pat dry with paper towel.
Then mince the flowers and set aside.
Pick up the good flowers from the water, shape the petals nicely, and place the each flower on paper towel. Cover with another sheet of paper towel and gently pat dry. Set aside.
Sift the cake flour and add the salt in the same bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
Add the ½ cup powder sugar and blend until soft and light. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the egg yolk and mix well until combined.
Gradually add 1 cup cake flour and blend until the dough is smooth.
Add minced cherry blossoms and blend well.
Because the dough will be still too soft to roll into a log shape, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or take out the dough from the bowl and wrap with plastic wrap) and keep in the fridge for 1 hour.
Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 1.5 inches (4 cm) diameter.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours. Optional; you can place the dough on a bed of rice while chilling. It’ll help keep the dough in nice cylindrical shape, so your cookie slices won’t be flat on one side.
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) degrees. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking liner.
Remove the plastic wrap, and then wrap around the dough with a damp paper towel so that the dough will be slightly wet. Or of course, you can use traditional method and brush egg wash on the dough (but damp paper towel method works every time for me).
In a tray that fits the cookie dough, sprinkle the white sparkling sugar. Remove the damp paper towel and roll the cookie log on the sparkling sugar.
With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/3 inches (7 mm)-thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheet, leaving about 1” (2.5 cm) between rounds.
Gently press down the reserved cherry blossom and decorate on the cookie rounds.
Bake the cookies at 350F (170C) for about 15 minutes, or until the edge of the cookies start to get golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes; then carefully transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
If you pack the cookies in an airtight container, they will keep for at least 4 days. You can also freeze the unbaked logs of dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 months. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting and baking. Do not let the dough fully defrost.
Prep Time does not include inactive time for soaking cherry blossoms (30 minutes), and chilling the dough (2 hours).
White Sparkling Sugar: It can be replaced with granulated sugar. Sparking sugar has large grain so that it won't melt and disappear. It gives nice look as well as nice crunch when you bite to it.
Cake Flour: A properly measured cup of cake flour weighs 4.25 oz (120 g). The weight for 1 cup flour varies on how you measure it. When you measure flour by volume, please follow the methods below. I’ve tested this method many times, and if you do it properly, 1 cup is VERY close to 120 g each time.
1. Fluff up the flour several times with a spoon.
2. Using the spoon, sprinkle the flour into your dry measuring cup (the one that measures exactly a cup at the top).
3. Scrape off the excess with a knife.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.